Mean world syndrome
"Mean world syndrome" is a term coined by George Gerbner to describe a phenomenon whereby violence-related content of mass media makes viewers believe that the world is more dangerous than it actually is. Mean world syndrome is one of the main conclusions of cultivation theory. Gerbner, a pioneer researcher on the effects of television on society, argued that people who watched a large amount of television tended to think of the world as an intimidating and unforgiving place.
The number of opinions, images, and attitudes that viewers tend to make when watching television will have a direct influence on what the viewer perceives the real world as. They will reflect and refer to the most common images or recurrent messages thought to impact on their own real life. Gerbner once said "You know, who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behaviour," he said. "It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it's a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.".
Gerbner says that the spread of the syndrome has become more intense over time. Gerbner describes that with newer technologies such as VCR, DVD, and cable, these do not disturb the cultivation theory, but actually allow more complete access and spread of recurrent messages, although widening access to the Internet world of information can counteract that. The 1930s behaviorism models, the Payne Fund Studies, show that the effect of mass media are considerable influences on our behaviors. This is called the hypodermic model theory: people are injected with appropriate messages and ideas constructed by the mass media. Individuals who watch television infrequently and adolescents who talk to their parents about reality are claimed to have a more accurate view of the real world than those who do not, and they may be able to more accurately assess their vulnerability to violence. They may also tend to have a wider variety of beliefs and attitudes.
 See also
- Appeal to fear
- Crime rate
- Dunning–Kruger effect
- For the children (politics)
- FUD Factor
- Just-world hypothesis
- Missing white woman syndrome
- Moral panic
- Paris syndrome
- The terrorists have won
- Urban survival syndrome
- George Gerbner Leaves the Mean World Syndrome Posted by: lex on http://PEJ.org Sunday, January 08, 2006, Peace, Earth & Justice News
- Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., Signorielli, N., & Shanahan, J. (2002) In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 43–67). Mahwah, N J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
-  Posted By: University of Twente September 6, 2004
- OrgeonLive: "The 'mean-world' syndrome: Despite the horror of child abductions, reality is a less threatening place than the world of television"